The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkey.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing judicial harassment of Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, President of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT), Mr. Erol Önderoğlu, Turkey Representative of Reporters Without Borders (RWB), and Mr. Ahmet Nesin, journalist, after their first hearing.
According to the information received, on November 8, 2016, the Istanbul Caglayan 13th Heavy Penal Court refused to drop the charges of “provoking commission of an offence” , “praising the offence and the offenders”  and ”making propaganda of terrorist organisation through means of press”  against the three . The Court decided to postpone the hearing to January 11, 2017.
The Observatory recalls that the three face possible custodial sentences for taking part in a solidarity campaign in support of the Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem. Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı and Mr. Erol Önderoğlu were present in the crowded court room. They recalled their legitimate right to freedom of expression and refused to see their sentence commuted into probation if convicted.
The Observatory deplores the continuing judicial harassment against Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Mr. Erol Önderoğlu and Mr. Ahmet Nesin,which seems to merely aim at sanctioning their human rights activities.
The Observatory calls upon the Turkish authorities to drop all the charges against them and, in the meantime, to ensure that all judicial proceeding against them are carried out in full compliance with their right to a fair trial, as protected under international law.
On June 20, 2016, the 1st High Court of Peace in Istanbul ordered the detention of Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Mr. Ahmet Nesin and Mr. Erol Önderoğlu, pending an investigation into their alleged involvement in the propaganda of terrorism. The human rights defenders presented themselves after they had received arrest warrants, and were referred to the 1st High Court of Peace after testifying before the Prosecutor on Terror and Organised Crime at the Istanbul Court House in Çağlayan earlier that day, under accusations of “provoking commission of offence”,“praising the offence and the offenders” and “making terror propaganda”.
Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Mr. Ahmet Nesin and Mr. Erol Önderoğlu were questioned in relation to their participation in the “Editor-in-chief on Duty” campaign launched in early May 2016 in solidarity with the Özgür Gündem newspaper and to defend freedom of press in Turkey .
Ms. Fincancı was detained at Bakırköy Women Closed Prison, while Messrs. Önderoğlu and Nesin were held in Metris Prison in Istanbul.
On June 30, 2016, the Istanbul Caglayan 13th Heavy Penal Court ordered the provisional release of Ms. Fincancı and Mr. Önderoğlu.
On July 1, 2016, the 14th Heavy Penal Court ordered the provisional release of Mr. Ahmet Nesin.
Please write to the authorities in Turkey, urging them to:
i. Drop all the charges against Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Mr. Erol Önderoğlu and Mr. Ahmet Nesin and, in the meantime, ensure that any judicial proceedings against them is carried out in full compliance with the defendants’ right to a fair trial, as protected under international law;
ii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Turkey, including Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Mr. Erol Önderoğlu and Mr. Ahmet Nesin;
iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including the judicial level, against all human rights defenders in Turkey so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrance or fear of reprisals;
iv. Put an end to the ongoing crackdown on civil society under the pretext of countering terrorism and recognise the legitimate role of human rights defenders, in line with Turkey’s international obligations;
v. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, 12.1 and 12.2;
vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Turkey.
· President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Cumhurbaşkanlığı Külliyesi 06560 Beştepe-Ankara, Tel: (+90 312) 525 55 55, Fax: (+90 312) 525 58 31, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr. Binali Yıldırım tel: (0312) 422 10 00 ; Fax: +90 (312) 403 62 82
· Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, No: 8 Balgat / Ankara - Turkey 06100; Tel : +90 (312) 292 10 00
· Minister of Justice, Mr. Bekir Bozdağ, 06659 Kizilay, Ankara; Tel: +90 (312) 417 77 70; Fax: +90 (0312) 419 33 70; E-mail: email@example.com
· Minister of Interior, Mr. Süleyman Soylu ; tel: +90 (312) 422 40 00;Fax: +90 (312) 425 61 30;Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Ambassador Izzet Selim Yenel, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Avenue des Arts 36-38, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium; Fax: + 32 2 511 04 50
· Ambassador Mehmet Ferden Çarikçi, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28B 1211 Geneva 19, Tel: +41 22 918 50 80; Fax: +41 22 734 08 59; Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Turkey in your respective country.